The Hudson River Navigation Guide
New York City to Troy, NY
The Hudson River stretches from its point of origin in the Adirondack Mountains of New York to the river’s mouth at The Battery in Manhattan where it empties into New York’s Upper Bay. The lower portion of the Hudson from the Federal Lock and Dam at Troy, NY south to New York City is the area of the river that we will be covering and is technically a tidal estuary rather than a river.
The Hudson River is an especially important waterway for those cruisers bound north for the Great Lakes or the St. Lawrence River. Its importance stems from the fact that it provides one of the few navigable passages connecting with the New York State Canal System.
Navigation on the lower Hudson River between New York City and Kingston, NY is pretty straightforward with well-marked channels and plenty of good water. Above Kingston the channel narrows considerably with middle grounds, flats, and shoals as far north as Albany, NY. From Albany north to Troy, NY, once again good water is available almost bank to bank.
On average, the lower portion of the Hudson River has (2) high and low tides every 24 hours with tidal forces affecting the river as far north as Albany and Troy. Once near the Troy Lock however, the tidal current does not flood and a persistent ebb current exists.
The salt line of the river varies depending on seasonal patterns with snow melt runoff and the typical spring rains pushing the salt line below the Tappan Zee Bridge. Summer seems to see the salt line establish itself just south of Newburgh, NY and in the times of drought the salt line may push as far north as Poughkeepsie, NY.
The navigation season for the Hudson River is unrestricted except in the event of heavy ice conditions during the winter months. During such times, low powered vessels may encounter difficulties in navigation north of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
From its official headwaters at Henderson Lake in New York, the Hudson flows 274 nm (507 km) southward to New York City. While the overall length of the Hudson River is of interest, more important is the lower Hudson River that stretches 134 nm (248 km) from The Troy Lock & Dam south to The Battery in New York City.
Aids to Navigation
NOAA Charts #12335, #12341, #12343, #12347, and #12348 provide for complete coverage of the Hudson River from its mouith at the Battery in New York City to Troy Lock and Dam in Troy, NY.
In addition to the above, charts #12345 and #12346 provide larger scale coverage of the Lower Hudson River from the George Washington Bridge to just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Chart #12335 - Hudson and East Rivers covers the Hudson River from Governors Island in New York City to 67th Street.
Chart #12341 - Hudson River covers the Hudson from 67th Street in New York City to the George Washington Bridge.
Chart #12343 - Hudson River covers the Hudson River from the George Washington Bridge to Wappanger Creek.
Chart #12347 - Hudson River covers the Hudson from Wappanger Creek to the Hudson Anchorage.
Chart #12348 - Hudson River covers the Hudson River from the Hudson Anchorage to the Troy Lock in Troy, NY.
Buoys and Marks
The Hudson is well marked along its entire length to Troy, NY with lighted buoys, ranges, fixed lights, and directional lights.
The standard lateral buoyage system is used on the Hudson River; "Red Right Returning."
A list of major features along the Hudson converted to waypoints; is available as the Hudson River Waypoint’s - Download.
Channel depths along the river vary; with a least depth of 43’ being found mid-channel from the mouth of the river to a point a little over 5 miles north of The Battery. Above this point, the project depth is 32’ to the Turning Basin in Albany, NY, with a small section at 30’ found in the vicinity of Edgewater, NJ. From Albany to the head of navigation at Troy, NY the project depth is 14’.
Depths of 216’ can be found in the vicinity of West Point.
17 bridges and 8 overhead power lines span the Hudson River between New York City and the head of navigation at Troy, NY. (2) Of these bridges, the Railroad swing bridge at Albany and the Green Island Lift Bridge at Troy operate on restricted schedules. Minimum bridge clearance of the fixed bridges on the Hudson River is at Troy, NY with a reported clearance of 55’. Minimum overhead power line clearance is 87’ also located in Troy.
Hudson River Bridges and Locks
|Mile Marker||Bridge||Charted Vert. Clear.||Schedule||Restrictions||VHF|
|9.5||G. Washington Bridge||213’||Fixed Bridge||Caution: Caution: Cable Maintenance Thru February 2026. Overhead Hot Work!|
|23.5||Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
|139’||Fixed Bridge||Twin Spans.|
|40.6||Bear Mountain Bridge||155’||Fixed Bridge|
|53.5||Newburgh-Beacon Bridge||172’||Fixed Bridge||North Span - Reduced Clearance to 169' until 12/15/2022.||Twin Spans|
|65.1||Mid-Hudson Bridge||134’||Fixed Bridge||Reduced Clearance to 129' until 12/31/2021|
|65.6||Walkway Over Hudson||167’||Fixed Bridge|
|82.7||Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge||135’||Fixed Bridge|
|98.7||Rip Van Winkle Bridge||142’||Fixed Bridge|
|117.8||Castleton RR (Alfred H. Smith) Bridge||139’||Fixed Bridge|
|117.9||Castleton-Hudson Bridge||135’||Fixed Bridge|
|126.4||Dunn Memorial Bridge||60’||Fixed Bridge|
|127.2||Albany RR Swing Bridge||25’||On Demand||12/16 through 03/31, the draw shall open on signal if at least 24 hours notice is given. AKA the "CSX Transportation" bridge.||13|
|127.8||Patroon Island Bridge||60’||Fixed Bridge|
|130.5||Troy-Manands Bridge||61’||Fixed Bridge|
|132.2||Congress Bridge||55’||Fixed Bridge|
|132.7||Green Island Lift Bridge||29’||From April 1 through December 15, the draw shall open on demand If at least a 24 hour advance notice is given to (518) 724-7586.||From 12/16 through 3/31, the draw need not open for the passage of vessel traffic. AKA the "Federal Street" bridge.||13|
|133.0||Collar City Bridge||61’||Fixed Bridge||64' Available in Secondary Channel.|
|134.0||Federal Lock at Troy||On Demand||Closed 01 December through 30 April.||13|
This table can be downloaded for your personal and private use. The file is Zipped Adobe (.pdf) format. Hudson River Bridges & Locks - Download.
With the exception of the VTS in the Lower and Upper Bays with their adjacent waters, and portions of the East and Hudson Rivers, no communication requirements exist. However, the prudent mariner would be well advised to maintain a listening watch on VHF channels 13 and 16 when in the vicinity of commercial traffic.
Vessel Traffic Service - New York
Mandatory Participation is required by:
- Power-driven vessels of 40 meters or more in length, while navigating.
- Towing vessels of 8 meters or more in length while navigating.
- Vessels certificated to carry 50 or more passengers for hire, when engaged in trade.
Mandatory Monitoring of VTS- NY is required by:
- Power-driven vessels greater than 20 meters in length while navigating.
- Towing vessels of 8 meters or more in length while navigating.
- Every vessel greater than 100 gross tons carrying one or more passengers for hire while navigating.
- Dredges and floating plants.
Regardless whether you are required to participate in, or simply monitor the VTS system, you are required to have on board a current copy of the Vessel Traffic Services New York User’s Manual. A copy of this manual is available for download - VTS New York User’s Manual.
There is no speed limit for the Hudson River except as defined by the COLREGS and common sense. The standard caveats apply to wake responsibility.
While transit times will vary based on vessel speed and currents encountered, for planning purposes figure on approximately 13½ hours to make the passage from New York City to the Federal Lock at Troy at 10 knots.
The Distance Table can be downloaded for your personal use as a ZIP file. The file contains the schedule in Adobe (.pdf) file format.
A distance table for the Hudson River useful as an aid in planning is available for download
Hudson River Distance Table
|All Distances in Nautical Miles|
|The Battery||George Washinton Bridge||Tappan Zee Bridge||Haverstraw Bay||West Point||Newburgh||Poughkeepsie||Kingston||Catskill||Castleton-on-Hudson||Port of Albany||Troy Lock|
|G. Washington Bridge||9.5||0.0||13.5||23.1||35.4||43.1||57.5||69.5||87.8||106.5||114.8||124.5|
|Tappan Zee Bridge||23.0||13.5||0.0||9.6||21.9||29.6||44.0||56.0||74.3||93.9||101.3||111.0|
|Port of Albany||124.3||114.8||101.3||91.7||79.4||71.7||57.3||45.3||27.0||7.4||0.0||9.7|
This table can be downloaded for your personal and private use. The file is Zipped Adobe (.pdf) format. Hudson River Distance Table - Download.
Found along the Hudson River
Tides in Hudson River can be greatly affected by a number of outside environmental factors. Because of these variables the predictions given in the Tide Tables for points above George Washington Bridge are based upon a 6 month average for the period, May to October, when the freshwater discharge is at a minimum.
The mean range of tide along the Hudson varies from 4.5 feet at The Battery dropping to 2.8 feet at Newburgh and increasing again to 4.7 feet at Troy.
Currents in Hudson River are influenced by the same factors that affect the tides. This results in extensive changes in both times of slack water and velocities and durations of flood and ebb. The currents usually set fair with the channels except in the vicinities of bends and wharves.
Velocities of currents tend to increase from 1.4 knots flood and 1.4 knots ebb in the vicinity of The Battery to 1.6 flood and 2.2 knots ebb at George Washington Bridge. North of the GWB current speeds tend to lessen slightly averaging 1.1 knots on the flood and 1.3 knots on the ebb as far north as Kingston. Once north of Kingston the current speeds drop again averaging 0.3 knots on the flood and 0.8 knots on the ebb. Once near Troy lock the current does not flood and the ebb has a velocity of 0.7 knots.
Keep in mind that these values are for the summer months when freshwater discharge is minimal.
All tables mentioned above including: Hudson River Waypoints, Bridges & Lock Table, and Hudson River Distances can be downloaded as a single file. Hudson River NavPak - Download
The Troy Lock
Located 134 NM above the Battery in NYC, it marks the head of tidal influence on the Hudson River. (Not part of the NYSCS)